While growing up in Donalda, Jim Cressman never thought he would later work with the entertainment industry’s biggest stars, but today he’s doing just that.
In June, he formed his own artist services company — Invictus Entertainment Group — based in Penticton, B.C.
“I’m excited about working in the music business,” said Cressman, 37.
In some of his most recent work, Cressman arranged for Carrie Underwood to tour Dawson Creek, Prince George and Abbotsford, B.C., and Moose Jaw, Sask.
He said he has worked with the likes of Reba McEntire, Keith Urban, Kiss and Maroon 5.
Cressman was raised on a mixed farm at Donalda that raised cattle, grain and hay.
He attended kindergarten to Grade 9 at Donalda and graduated from William E. Hay Composite High School in Stettler in 1993.
His family lived at Gadsby before moving to Donalda, where his parents lived until 2009, when they settled in Calgary.
After graduation, Cressman enrolled in broadcast journalism at Mount Royal College in Calgary. He said he got his start in radio at Q14 in Stettler.
His career later took him to Calgary, working for Country 105 radio station. He made connections with people in the music industry that eventually led to his present career.
Cressman worked at Key Entertainment Group for six years before he and partner Ron Sakamoto purchased the Calgary-based company to form Cressman Sakamoto Agency. That arrangement lasted six years. Cressman bought out Sakamoto’s interest to form his own company.
Cressman said that when he was working at the Stettler radio station, he was inspired by Q14 program director Russell Thomas, who “did everything to bring Prairie Oyster to Stettler.”
The group was one of the nation’s biggest country acts at the time and Stettler was considered a small market.
That drive impressed Cressman and never left him. Today, a major focus of his company is to book big-name artists for secondary and tertiary markets.
Cressman sits on the board of the Canadian Country Music Association, which helps his work with Canadian country music artists, he said.
Among current Invictus clients are George Canyon, Terri Clark, Emerson Drive, Brett Kissel, Charlie Major, One More Girl and Aaron Pritchett.
The booking agency deals with Canadian, U.S. and international stars in all genres of music.
With his small-town roots, Cressman said he finds satisfaction in the promotion of major stars to secondary markets.
Otherwise, some fans would need to drive two to four hours for a major show, he said.
Cressman said stars appreciate playing for new fans. It also creates an economic spark for the communities.
“Artists get a tremendous reception going to smaller centres — with an incredulous home-town atmosphere — it’s electric,” he said.
Cressman was involved in bringing the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and George Canyon to Stettler.
He was also the agent for One More Girl when the band was scheduled to perform in Stettler in the fall. The show was cancelled because of low ticket sales.
Cressman said the sister-duo are rising stars, and people will likely regret not getting tickets when they had the chance to see the siblings perform live in Stettler.
He said he has booked multiple acts for Red Deer’s Westerner Days. Among them are Reba McEntire and Johnny Reid.
“I’ve done quite a bit of work, right up the road (from Stettler),” Cressman said.
Cressman now calls Penticton home. He said he loves the mild weather and the quietness of small town life.
“It brings a level of balance to the frantic activity in my professional life,” he said.